Articles Posted in Insurance

Munroe Regional Medical Center has told Florida hospital regulators that it is ending its effort to build a trauma center.

The 421-bed hospital notified the Florida Department of Health that it will not formally apply for permission to build.

The deadline for formally notifying the state is April 15, and Munroe previously had indicated an interest in pursuing the idea and contacted the DOH in writing as to its intent.

Munroe’s president and CEO did tell the Ocala Star-Banner that it made little sense to build a trauma center at Munroe since Ocala Regional Medical Center, located just across the street from Munroe, already has a Level II trauma center.

6590137951_d19713f65c_zMunroe also is partners with UF Health Shands Hospital, which operates a Level I trauma center in Gainesville.

According to state guidelines, two centers are allowed in Trauma Service Area 6, which covers Marion, Hernando and Citrus counties. ORMC already has one. Citrus Memorial Hospital in Inverness has also indicated interest in establishing one.

Hospital Corporation of America owns Ocala Regional and West Marion Community Hospital and it leases Citrus Memorial. The plans for the trauma center were halted because it was not believed that the plans would be approved.

Instead, Munroe will focus on improving its emergency department, other hospital areas, and its satellite facilities.

The main focus will be expanding its ER.

The hospital had about 110,000 emergency room visits last year, and that figure includes visits to Munroe’s stand-alone Timber Ridge emergency facility on Southwest State Road 200 and the hospital’s pediatric emergency department.

The expansion of the emergency room will be part of the $150 million improvement package that Community Health Systems promised to make as part of its 40-year lease agreement.

CHS leases Munroe from the Marion County Hospital District, which owns the facility on behalf of the public.

The improvement plan will also likely include a new wing of private patient rooms, which would help accommodate the growing number of patients entering the hospital through the ER.

CHS began its lease of Munroe almost a year ago and owns or leases 208 health care facilities in 29 states.

CHS was required to submit its $150 million improvement plan to the hospital district by last October. Upon receipt of the plan, district trustees complained that what they received was far too vague and incomplete.

According to reports, the hospital needed more time to deliver a more thorough master facilities plan, and that the October deadline was never practical.

It is unfortunate that these plans have ceased for the time being. This new trauma center would have provided much faster service to accident victims in Marion and Citrus Counties as currently they are often taken to Shands in Gainesville or left to wait in line at Ocala Regional.

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Backover accidents are responsible for killing thousands of children each year. The sad truth is that these accidents are entirely preventable.

A backover accident usually occurs when a car is backing out of a parking spot or driveway. Because of blind spots in vehicles, drivers are strongly encouraged to double check behind their vehicles before backing up. These “blind zones” directly behind or around the vehicle are not able to be seen from the driver’s seat.

57537501_a88b4dd51c_zBackover Statistics

  • At least 50 children are backed over by vehicles every week throughout the U.S.
  • Of those 50 struck by cars, 48 are treated in hospital emergency rooms.
  • Another two children are fatally injured in backover accidents every week.
  • Children between the ages of 12 and 23 months old are the most common backover accident victims.
  • More than 60 percent of backover accidents involve larger passenger vehicles, like trucks, vans and SUVs.
  • In more than 70 percent of all backover accidents, the at-fault driver is a close relative or parent.

Protecting Children Around & Near Cars

Due to the fact that backover accidents are 100 percent preventable, it is important to point out that there are numerous safety tips to put into action when children are around cars.  Children should never be allowed to play near parked cars. Why? Busy adults may be in too much of a hurry to walk around their vehicle and check for blind zones before driving off to their destinations. The following safety tips can help prevent a fatal backover accident:

  • Walk around and behind the vehicle before getting behind the wheel.
  • Make sure you know where your children are.
  • Teach children that parked cars might move at any time.
  • Keep toys and and anything else kids might use out of the driveway.
  • Trim up any landscaping located around the driveway to help with visibility.
  • Watch children when exiting a vehicle. Hold their hands if possible.

Fatal and injury-causing backover accidents can change your life forever. It is very important to talk to your children about the dangers of driveways and parked cars so that they know to exercise added caution. As a driver, it is necessary to take the time to check your “blind zones” before getting into your car. If you have an SUV or truck, you should pay particular attention, as these vehicles are known to have larger blind zones than other vehicles.

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Statistics from the Insurance Research Council shows that one in seven drivers in the United States is uninsured. When a car accident occurs, usually the at-fault driver’s insurance covers the damages.

The IRC reports that nearly 14 percent of drivers are uninsured. So, what should you do if you have been hit by an uninsured driver?

  1. Obtain as Much Info As You Can

Even though the other driver is uninsured, you need to gather as much information as possible. Get their name, contact information, driver’s license number and license plate number. Then, take pictures of all the damage to your car, the other car, and while you are at it, snap a pic of the license plate on the car that hit you.

  1. Call the Cops

2957925933_85ed92d9cc_z (1)Whether or not the other driver is being cooperative or uncooperative, it can still be a good idea to get the police at the scene, especially if the damage goes beyond a fender bender. The police can document the incident, and the report can assist with your insurance claim later on.

On a side note, most states have laws requiring all drivers to have car insurance, including Florida. Due to the fact that uninsured drivers are breaking the law, it is probably best to get the police involved.

  1. Call Your Insurance Company

Call your insurance company so that they can check if your policy has uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. If this is something you do not have, you should definitely consider getting it.

Uninsured motorist insurance compensates you for injuries and damages in the event you are in an accident with another party who has no insurance at all. On the other hand, underinsured motorist insurance covers the rest of the damages when the other side’s insurance is not enough to cover your total damages. To review, let’s say your underinsured motorist insurance covers $100,000. If the at-fault driver’s insurance covers $50,000 in damage, but your damages totaled $75,000, you would get $50,000 from the other driver’s insurance, and the $25,000 from your policy would cover the rest of the damages.

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A bicyclist died last Thursday, two days after he was hit by a car while riding in Citrus County, according to reports.

The 75-year-old Crystal River man was riding his bicycle east along the southern edge of the Ozello Trail during the morning hours of March 31.

At the same time, police claim that a 73-year-old Homosassa woman was driving a 2010 Chevrolet Equinox east on the Ozello Trail.

13205411865_d6f7f39a9f_zTroopers believe the driver failed to see the biker. The right front corner of her car sideswiped the biker, ejecting him onto the road.

The man was taken to Bayonet Point, where he died from his injures two days later.

Bicycling is more popular than ever in Florida, due to our war climate and what seems like never-ending bike trails and bike lanes on Citrus County streets. As the popularity of biking continues to grow, bike riders must remember that their safety is not guaranteed as long as they share streets and street crossings with cars and trucks. Bikers are extremely susceptible to injury compared to the drivers of other vehicles on the road.

Cycling accidents are a serious problem not just in Florida, but across the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 726 cyclists were killed in traffic accidents in 2012. In that same year, the death toll for cyclists accounted for nearly 2 percent of all deaths on the roadway, despite the fact that bicycles represented only 1 percent of all traffic on the road.

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Spring break is upon us, which means school is out! This time of year is highly anticipated by students of all ages. For an entire week there are no exams, quizzes, and lectures, and that means more time in the sun with friends. For students heading somewhere far away that requires a plane trip, there is little to stress about minus the occasional delay. However, some students opt for the road trip with friends, sometimes travelling more than 14 hours to reach their spring break destinations.

Students that are driving long distances face many dangers, including distractions in the car, fatigue and of course, the regular car maintenance issues. The following tips can prevent potential accidents on the road:

  • Make sure to inspect the vehicle being used for travel before leaving. You need to check the tire pressure, engine, brakes, fluids, etc. Anything can happen when you are on the road, from getting a flat tire to your engine overheating. While you cannot always anticipate these things, do your best to prevent obvious hazards, such as engine check signals and low tread on tires. Be prepared for any mishaps and keep an emergency road kit in your car with spare tires, jumper cables, and any other necessary equipment you may need.
  • 8488072162_fc9168fdc0_zCreate a driving plan and rotate drivers every couple of hours. Driver fatigue is dangerous and should be avoided. It can be quite difficult to fight off feelings of drowsiness. If you or another driver starts to feel their eyelids getting heavy or experiences uncontrollable yawning, these are signs it is time to switch who is in the driver’s seat. Never allow all passengers to doze off and leave the driver without company. Sometimes simple conversation can prevent the driver from becoming too exhausted and falling asleep at the wheel.
  • Everyone that will be driving needs to have a valid driver’s license. The vehicle’s registration and insurance should be kept in a convenient place. Before you head out, make sure that stickers, registration and insurance are not expired. Getting stopped by law enforcement in a foreign place without the proper identification and forms can be an unnecessary headache you do not want to deal with.
  • Do not keep valuables in your car for an extended period of time. People will be more inclined to break into your vehicle if they spot valuable items sitting on the seat, like wallets, phones and laptops. Make sure when you haul these items in your car, that you secure them somewhere out of sight when you have to leave your vehicle for a food or bathroom break. Locking your vehicle is the best way to protect your belongings. Do not leave your windows open enough for anyone to stick their hands in.

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If you have survived a car accident, you are probably feeling hurt, scared and confused. It can be difficult trying to move on from this stressful time when no one completely understands your physical pain or emotional suffering.

You are not alone when it comes to surviving an auto accident. In fact, the latest research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that:175119264_e5ab911826_z

  • Combined, car accident victims in the United States spend about one million days in the hospital each year.

This Sunday the wait is officially over – the Superbowl is here! Football fans across the country have already started preparing to watch and celebrate Sunday’s Super Bowl with friends and family. Our Citrus County Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are encouraging NFL fans to enjoy the game responsibly and designate a driver if they intend to drink.

Whether you’re hosting a Super Bowl party or out watching the game with friends, remember that fans don’t let fans drive drunk. It should always be to priority to get home safely.

In 2013, there was one death every 52 minutes across the country due to drunk drivers, according to the NHTSA. That breaks down to 10,076 people killed in crashes involving a drunk driver. More than half of those fatalities, 56 percent to be exact, happened during weekends (Friday 6 p.m. to Monday 5:59 a.m.)

16165977478_fa0a3fc559_zThe NHTSA, NFL and the Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management Coalition have joined forces with local highway safety and law enforcement officials to remind everyone about the national campaign, “Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk.” If you are hosting a party, watching the game at a bar or restaurant or even attending the game, always make sure you have a sober ride home before choosing to drink.

If you’re attending a Super Bowl party or watching the game at a bar or restaurant:

  • Select a sober driver or plan another way to get home safely before you start partaking in Super Bowl festivities.
  • You can even use the NHTSA’s new SaferRide mobile app. This app helps people who have been drinking get a safe ride home by identifying their location so they can be picked up. You can get the app for Android devices on Google Play and Apple devices on the iTunes store.
  • Do not let friends drive if they have had too much to drink.
  • When you are on the road, always buckle up – this is always your best defense against drunk drivers.

If you’re hosting a Super Bowl party:

  • Remember, you can be held liable if someone you served at your soiree ends up in a drunk driving collision.
  • Have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages at the party.
  • Stop serving alcohol at the end of the game’s third quarter.
  • Keep the numbers for local cab companies on hand, and take the keys away from anyone who has had too much to drink. Offer your couch to friends and family if need be.

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A California surgeon has been placed on probation for removing the wrong kidney from a federal inmate.

A surgeon at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, California, accidentally removed a healthy kidney from a 59-year-old incarcerated male in 2012. According to reports, the doctor was supposed to remove a tumor-ridden left kidney from the patient, but left the CT scans of the kidneys back at the office.

5249211692_04bcf8eab8_zIn this case, and others like it, it is important for patients to know what a doctor is liable for when wrong-site surgeries occur. In this specific case, the California Medical Board found that the doctor “relied on memory to decide which kidney to remove,” and his discipline was three years of probation.

Doctors, lawyers, and many other types of professionals keep their licenses, or ability to practice their specialty, by abiding by certain levels of professional responsibility. In this specific case, the California Medical Board placed the doctor on three years of probation, meaning he can still practice medicine as long as he:

  • Completes a wrong-site surgery course
  • Notifies hospitals and medical facilities about his probation status
  • No longer supervises physician assistants

Again, in this specific case, if the doctor violates these terms, he could have his license revoked.

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The holidays are usually when loved ones and family members come together to share great food and company. With the holidays in full swing, parties and celebrations are in abundance, and while these can be joyous occasions, there are many holiday hazards that can affect this special time of year, including personal injuries.

262810485_0497847bca_zOur team of Citrus County Personal Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have compiled a few tips on how to avoid the most common injuries that plague many household every year throughout the holiday season.

  • Candles can easily result in a burn injury or house fire. The best thing you can do when it comes to reducing your risk of a burn injury is to to substitute wax candles with battery-powered flameless candles. If you do make the choice to stick with real wax candles, make sure you do not leave them unattended when lit.
  • When cooking, wear fitted clothing so that your clothes have less chance of catching fire. Keep hot foods and liquids away from the edge of the counter. Children and pets can easily knock these items over, resulting in injury. Lastly, to decrease the risk of burn injuries and fire, never leave a hot stove or oven unattended.
  • Prepare yourself for an emergency by checking to make sure that your smoke detector is functioning and have a fire extinguisher nearby so that you can quickly and safely put out any fire.

Don’t Let Slips, Trips & Falls Ruin Your Festivities

  • Holiday decorations that use electrical cords and strings of lights can lead to slips, trips and falls. Avoid slip and falls and trips and falls in your home this holiday season by running wires and cords behind furniture or along the walls and securing them down.
  • Secure rugs inside your home by placing adhesive backings onto them so that they stay grounded to the floor.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a new Car Seat Finder Tool, giving users the ability to look up car seat recalls on its mobile app, while also reminding parents and caregivers to register their child’s car seat through its new campaign entitled – “Don’t Delay. Register Your Car Seat Today.”

NHTSA’s new Car Seat Finder Tool is targeted towards helping parents choose the right car seat or booster seat for their child. The campaign urges everyone to realize the importance of registering car seats in order to receive important safety recall notifications. While this may seem shocking, every 34 seconds a child under the age of 13 is involved in an auto accident, and more than a third of children killed in these crashes were not in car seats or wearing seat belts.

125486076_5dc1245ba9_mNHTSA pushed manufacturers to recall seats with defective buckles in 2014 to ensure owners received a replacement buckle at no cost. Because of this effort, more than 7.4 million car seats have been recalled. However, on average, only 40 percent of people get their car seat fixed.

That’s where NHTSA’s “Don’t Delay. Register Your Car Seat Today” campaign comes into play, urging caregivers to register their car seat so manufacturers know how to notify them of a recall and how to receive the free fix. NHTSA’s Parent Central site allows parents and caregivers to find their manufacturer or brand of car seat so that they can be directly linked to the manufacturer’s registration page.

In addition, the NHTSA also offers parents and caregivers the following safety tips:

  • Go to NHTSA’s Car Seat Finder Tool and find the right seat for your child based on age and size
  • Always read the instructions and labels that come with your child’s car seat as well as the vehicle owner’s manual to find important information regarding the installation of the seat in your specific vehicle
  • Do not forget to register your child’s car seat with the manufacturer so that you can get up to date safety recall notifications as they happen
  • Should your child’s car seat become recalled, contact the manufacturer and follow their instructions on how to get it fixed for free
  • Make sure that all children under 13 years are seated and properly restrained in the back seat of your vehicle at all times
  • Set a good example for all children in your car and always wear your seat belt. It is more common to see unrestrained children in a car with unbuckled drivers, so keep that in mind when travelling any distance.

NHTSA’s Safercar mobile app can be downloaded for Apple devices and Android devices.

Regardless of the size or type of vehicle you have, the age of your child or the duration of your car trip, children should always be properly restrained. When properly installed and used, car seats, booster seats and seat belts can save lives.

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